New Flu Drug Funded by HHS

Sep 29, 2015

A new drug provides a novel approach to treating patients with influenza and will advance in development with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

This new monoclonal antibody therapeutic drug for patients with influenza has not yet been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Monoclonal antibodies bind to specific parts of the virus, neutralizing the virus and decreasing the amount of virus in the body.

The drug VIS410 is being developed by Visterra Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and targets a part of the influenza virus that is common to a wide range of flu strains. The target area evolves much more slowly than areas targeted by currently approved drugs, which could allow VIS410 to be effective against flu strains that become resistant to current antiviral drugs.

Having multiple antiviral treatment options available for influenza is essential to saving lives in a pandemic and every day,” said Robin Robinson, Ph.D., Director of ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) whose office will oversee the project. “Developing antiviral drugs that work against many strains of influenza provides a cost-efficient way to boost pandemic preparedness and at the same time potentially alleviate the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people who are hospitalized with influenza every year.”

If full development is successful, the drug would provide another treatment option for patients who are hospitalized due to seasonal or pandemic influenza infections. In the United States, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year due to seasonal flu complications, and seasonal influenza contributes to approximately 36,000 deaths annually.

Source: US Department of Health & Human Services, News Release - September 29, 2015, HHS advances developement of novel drug to treat influenza. 

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